The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

Time Period
1764 to 1824
Media Type
Politics & Government
Lindsay M. Chervinsky

On November 26, 1791, after waiting two and a half years into his presidency, George Washington convened his department secretaries―Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph―for the first cabinet meeting. In a virtual Banner Lecture on July 9, 2020, historian Lindsay M. Chervinsky revealed the far-reaching consequences of Washington’s decision. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies and a Senior Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies. She is the author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.

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